Digital tools have changed how historians conduct research in countless ways. The internet has become my first stop when researching anything. The digitization of books and collections from archives and museums give historians easy access to sources that they may not have otherwise had access to. Additionally, these tools allow historians to publish and share their own research and connect with other historians and enthusiasts from all over the world. Things such as maps, graphs, trees and other means of data visualization have allowed historians to examine patterns and statistics that they may not have otherwise noticed. Digital tools have, in some ways, made the job of the historian much easier. In other ways, these tools have also made it much easier for enthusiasts to spread false information. Historians must be diligent in ensuring that the information that they publish and share is correct and available for a large audience to benefit from.
Personally, I can not imagine being a historian without these digital tools. I plan to continue using digitized books and archives. I research French and Canadian history and unfortunately, I cannot always travel to these places to visit archives, libraries and museums. I am also not always able to visit institutions in Massachusetts to research Early American history. The internet has more information than any individual institution and can serve as a great alternative when travel is not an option. Although I am still relatively nervous about publishing and sharing research on the internet, I can understand how this is an important tool. I hope to take advantage of this in the future. I also will use digital visualization tools to track population and demographic changes in the societies that I examine.
Something that has already served me very well is the connectivity of these digital tools. Primarily through email I have been able to contact historians from institutions to ask questions, and even find research and job opportunities. I have met good friends, found people with similar interests, and made professional connections all through the power of the internet. I plan to continue to use email and other methods of online communication to connect with other historians and institutions. This a great way to make both personal and professional connections.
Historians living in the twenty-first century have a much different job than historians who lived less than a century ago. Today historians can do much of their research and work from the comfort of their own home. This saves time, energy and money and has the potential the allow historians to share their research with a bigger audience than in the past. Some might argue that digital research and sources may lack the same feeling of researching in person, but I believe that the benefits out way the negative aspects.